“What does economic growth actually mean? It means more consumption – and consumption of a specific kind: more consumption of goods and services that are exchanged for money. That means that if people stop caring for their own children and instead pay for childcare, the economy grows. The same if people stop cooking for themselves and purchase restaurant takeaways instead.
Economists say this is a good thing. After all, you wouldn’t pay for childcare or takeaway food if it weren’t of benefit to you, right? So, the more things people are paying for, the more benefits are being had. Besides, it is more efficient for one daycare centre to handle 30 children than for each family to do it themselves. That’s why we are all so much richer, happier and less busy than we were a generation ago. Right?”
“Anthropologists have studied brain scans of couples in love. The ones in the early throes of romantic love virtually dribble dopamine. Their brains, according to Dr Helen Fisher, behave exactly like someone on crack cocaine. They are obsessed and infatuated. Thankfully – for the sanity of society – couples who’ve been together for a bit calm down. Their brains bathe in oxytocin: they feel attached and secure and want to pack each other’s lunch boxes but alas, they’re unlikely to want to snog in the back of a taxi.
People only started to marry for love in the late 18th century. Marriage was a strategy to form business partnerships, expand family networks, craft political ties, strengthen a labour force or pass on wealth. In aristocratic societies of the 12th century, adultery was considered a higher form of love. True love was thought impossible with a spouse. In the 16th century, the essayist Montaigne wrote that any man in love with his wife was “a man so dull no one else could love him”. It’s therefore ironic that people moralise about the demise of “old-fashioned family values” or “traditional marriage”. The true “traditional” approach to marital commitment had nothing to do with either everlasting love or exclusivity.”